This compilation – known as Clubhouse Games in the US – sadly isn’t a collection of memorable NES games, but instead traditional games like Blackjack, Chess, Battleships, Dominos and the bored secretary’s favourite Solitaire. There are some non-traditional ones thrown if for good measure though, such as Balance – in which players place blocks on a see-saw until it topples over – and the self-explanatory Shake the Bottle. There’s a sliding block puzzle too, which is ace because we like sliding block puzzles.
After picking an avatar you’re given 100 chips and presented with a handful of modes to partake of. Naturally you’re free to play any game you fancy, although if you’re feeling plucky then mission mode should be your first port of call. Here you’ll find such challenges as getting three strikes in a row at Bowling or clearing a Mah Jong board in under three minutes. Then there’s ‘stamp mode’, which entails playing and winning one round/hand/match of all 42 games to win points and unlock goodies, including more games – Hangman, Ludo and Shogi – and fancier avatars. You might want to see these as medals to forewarn others of your elite skills when you play online.
Well over half of the games can be played against others from all over the world, which is impressive. You can search for Pictochat uses or converse using icons and provided phrases like “Well done!” and “Good game!”, and also check your worldwide ranking between rounds. It’s only just been released in the US, so it might be an idea to get a copy in quick and brush up on your card game knowledge to not lose the advantage. The comprehensive tutorials will teach you everything you need to know.
It can be quite hard to tell some of the tiles apart in Mah Jong, the ball physics in Billiards aren’t very convincing, and in Battleships the CPU player seems to pick boxes randomly rather than strategically, but gripes like these are few and far between. On the whole the AI is creditable, especially the lightening reflexes in adolescent wet-break timewaster Dots and Lines. Takeover, in which you have to propel a tiddlywink around a board to capture squares, proved to be a neat surprise – it’s one of those games in which everything can change in the last few seconds. The same can also be said for Koi Koi – a card game featuring Nintendo’s legendry century old hand painted Hanafuda cards.
In respect of value for money this puts a lot of the recent retro compilations to shame, especially when you consider that the likes of Midas and Phoenix were pumping out PSone Chess and Backgammon games for about Â£7.99 a pop only a few years ago. Indeed, if you’re planning to get stuck on a desert island any time soon then this would be an ideal collection to take along. You’ll need luck finding an infinite power source, mind.